East Africa: FAO Urges East African Countries to Reinforce Multi-Sectoral Approach for Food Security

Addis Ababa — The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) underlined that the East African region should take a multi-sectoral approach to tackle food insecurity.

FAO Food Security and Safety Officer for the IGAD Sub-region, Yirgalem Tagese told ENA that food insecurity is still a pressing issue in the region due to various reasons.

Therefore, the east African region needs to reinforce a multi-sectoral approach in order to ensure food security.

“There are multi-sectoral problems and multi-sectoral approach is very important. It means that all actors who have been involved in food production, food trade, food transportation and throughout the value chain in the agricultural value chain need to work together.”

Speaking about the causes of food insecurity in the region, he stated that one of the major challenges is climate change phenomena like El Niño and La Niña which have continued to affect the region.

For instance, the current drought in the region is a result of lack of rain that has failed for the last five consecutive seasons.

The pastoral and agro-pastoral areas of Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya and other countries of the IGAD region have a huge number of populations affected by the drought, Yirgalem noted.

“There is a recurrent drought which occurs every ten years. Sometimes also the extreme weather event, including heavy rains, flooding problems come along with that.”

Obviously, some 70 percent of the IGAD region is arid and semi-arid, making it vulnerable to natural calamities like drought and flood.

Apart from the climatic factors, security issues and instability in the IGAD region have contributed to the food crisis, according to the food security and safety officer.

“If there is conflict and insecurity in a country, it really disrupts agricultural production activities,” Yirgalem said.

Elaborating further about food related crises in the region, the officer stated that food safety problems and post-harvest loss management are undermining the east African food security efforts.

As a result, some 137,000 Africans die annually from food borne related illness which presents one-third of the death toll from the same cause.

Post-harvest losses in the region are also very serious. A study carried out on post-harvest loss of IGAD member states, for example, showed that 4.1 million metric tons of post-harvest loss in 2018 alone, Yirgalem said. In terms of monetary value, this amounts to 1.3 billion US dollars.